The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

The Student-Run News Site of Carnegie Vanguard High School

Upstream News

Op-ed: The clash for cords

CVHS seniors scramble for graduation honors, but at what cost?
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Audrey Piczak
CVHS seniors Roxell Bonilla (left) and Audrey Piczak (right) face off in an epic battle to out-cord eachother

‘Twas the night before graduation, when all through each CVHS seniors’ house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The high schoolers were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of gowns weighed down by dozens of colored strings, shiny medals and satin stoles danced in their heads.

As the second semester begins and graduation finally arrives on the horizon, seniors are scrambling to gather their cords from the plethora of clubs they have collected memberships in over the years with hopes of flaunting their resumes around their necks. However, many of us can’t help but ask the question: do these cords truly reflect our contributions and endeavors that made us into who we will be when we walk across that stage?

While the 2024 class started their freshman year online, that didn’t stop many from joining a wide variety of clubs such as WISE, Anime Club, Eco Club, and more. The possibility of being able to put “Club President”, secretary, or any other important sounding title on college resumés turned extracurricular passions into a competitive race to collect clubs like Easter eggs.

Upstream News polled CVHS students to find out just how they felt about their extracurricular pursuits, specifically their club memberships. While some respondents shared a genuine interest in their clubs, the majority of respondents shared that they were dragged into clubs in the hopes of filling their resumé. One student shared that while they are in more than seven clubs, they lack an interest in some of them.

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“I don’t go to a few of them because I don’t have time, so I’m too preoccupied to take interest in it,” reported the student. Other responses shared similar sentiments, as another student with more than seven clubs sharing, “There are a few clubs here and there that are cool but other clubs I am in are boring, and I don’t go to meetings”.

Other respondents who reported memberships in more than seven clubs also reported having interests and passion for their clubs.

One student shared, “I really love Interact and Theatre. NHS is just paperwork…so it’s easy to stay. Bollywood is interesting and it’s a fun way to hang out with friends.”

However, this doesn’t take away from the long list of responses that shared their lack of passion and genuine interest in the clubs they were in. Some students who shared these sentiments also added that a large motivator to join and remain in some of their clubs was the fact that their friends were also members.

“I stay because my friends are in it and it doesn’t take effort to stay,” one response read.

This is a common phenomenon seen across several CVHS clubs, and it makes sense. With the hectic days that students face, it can be fun and meaningful to participate in extracurriculars in the company of friends. However, if we are solely joining these clubs on the basis of hanging out with friends or adding onto a long list of empty extracurriculars on our resumés, how impressed will colleges really be by this? Is it really worth it at all?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Research shows that US private universities have grown more selective over the past 30 years, with their average acceptance rate falling by 22.5% (Bound 2011). Meanwhile, public schools are displaying a similar trend of increasing selectivity. UT Austin’s 2014 acceptance rate was 39%. This year, the public university only accepted 11% of non-automatic admits for in-state applicants.

Given these rather intimidating statistics, students have earned the right to be anxious about making sure they have everything colleges may look for in their resumés, essays and honors. However, if you truly want to impress your readers, we leave you with the simple advice of quality over quantity. The age-old aphorism cannot be more true in the realm of college applications. Any college advisor you may meet will tell you that colleges look for unique stories. Now, you may not know exactly how to make your credentials look unique, but that’s something you have to figure out yourself, and it’s not an impossible task.

Ask yourself, “Who am I?”. While we may not all know the perfect answer to that question quite yet, try to find it. Find your true passions, what brings you a sense of purpose and belonging, and run with it. Join clubs that align with those interests and pursue extracurriculars that you truly love. Naturally, these pursuits will flourish into great endeavors because they stem from genuine joy. This is what colleges will see on your application. They will see who you are. Your resumé should be a colorful, lively extension of your identity, not a lifeless list of meaningless activities.

With that, we leave you with simple advice.

Underclassmen, if you’re reading, stay true to who you are and what you love. Dedicate your time to those things and any college will see that. Whether they accept you or not is out of your hands, but you will be able to rest assured that you presented your true self and all that you are capable of. And you will have spared wasted lunchtime on boring club meetings that you only came to for the cookies and treats that they promised you!

Upperclassmen, the cords are really pretty. We know. They’re shiny and colorful and look great with a graduation gown on and a diploma in hand. However, don’t make your honorable awards a mere competition with those around you. Your high school career extends far beyond what will hang on your neck as you walk across the stage.

And finally, a piece of advice to the upperclassmen who plan on buying meaningless, random cords or taking them from friends to flaunt as their own: don’t.

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About the Contributors
Audrey Piczak, Opinions Editor
Current senior and Opinions Editor, Audrey Piczak, has been a writer for the Upstream News for two years. However, her love for writing has been in her life for much longer than that. Audrey also loves to write poetry, songs, research, and anything else she can write about. She plays nine instruments, but her favorite is the cello. Her favorite musical artist is Phoebe Bridgers, but her top artist of 2023 was Drake, which makes for an interesting mix.
Roxell Bonilla, Sports Editor
Roxell is a senior at CVHS. She loves sports of all kinds, especially soccer and volleyball, and even runs some sports clubs here at Carnegie. She also loves frogs, with the cute tree frog being one of her favorites. She has three dogs and four cats at home—one of which is named Kiwi.
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